HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Arch Coal Inc. has applied for a strip mining permit to develop the Otter Creek Coal Mine.

William "Mike" Rowlands is the head of Arch Coal's Otter Creek operations in Montana. He tells the Great Falls Tribune (http://bit.ly/O8MtNt) that the permit is just a first step and there is a long way to go before mining begins.

The state leased the 572 million tons of coal reserves to Arch Coal in 2010 for $86 million and future royalties.

The permit application filed with the Montana Department of Environmental Quality on July 26 says the proposed mine would cover 7,639 acres of state, federal and private land in southeastern Montana.

The application calls for transporting the coal by rail, but the proposed Tongue River Railroad has yet to be approved.


Information from: Great Falls Tribune, http://www.greatfallstribune.com